Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Night Blade (Colbana Files #2) by J.C. Daniels

Kit Colbana's past is filled with abuse and violence but this tragic history has made Kit highly skilled at her job.  When she comes to the attention of Banner, the policing organisation for supernaturals, Kit's first instinct is to avoid their attempts to contact her.  She's particularly not interested because the agent in question is her ex boyfriend Justin.  Kit may not want the job but Justin is certain that she is the only one who can solve the case of the murdered council members. When Justin informs her that it's believed that her current boyfriend Damon is suspected of murder and will be sentenced to death, Kit has no choice but to agree to the job, even if this means she has to go it alone.

Kit spends most of the book getting the shit kicked out of her as she investigates the case.  Because Night Blade is so circular, it feels as though Kit spends the entire time chasing her tail without getting anywhere.  Because of a binding spell placed on her, Kit actually feels pain anytime she even thinks about telling anyone what she is up to.  Kit's inability to speak angers Damon and so she is forced to remind him repeatedly that she was doing her job long before he entered her life and is therefore capable of taking care of herself.

When we first met Damon in Blade Song, I really wasn't a fan of him at all and this feeling of dislike continues into Night Blade.  Damon is extremely possessive, jealous and controlling.  When Damon learns that Kit is working with her ex, he immediately demands that she quit.  Due to the nature of her investigation, this is something that Kit cannot do and so Damon responds by biting her neck, permanently scaring her so that the world will know that she belongs to him.
I hissed out a breath as he sank his teeth into my neck.  My mind processed what he was doing but before I could decide if I was going to do a damn thing, his hand tangled in y hair, arching my head to the side as he pressed down harder, harder until his teeth broke through the skin.
He growled against me and I groaned.
It hurt-
There isn't anything remotely sexy or romantic about having a six-foot five, two-hundred fifty pound werecat sink a powerful set of teeth into your neck.
But it was over in seconds and I was still in processing mode as he grabbed something from the bed to press against my neck.  "You're asking me to deal with something that I can't change and I hate it," he said, his voice hard and flat.  "That's how I'm dealing.  The next tie anybody looks at you, they're going to see what I wanted everybody to know months ago." (pg 107)
The mark on her wrist was something that Kit could choose to hide but the neck mark gives her absolutely zero options.  If that were not enough, when Damon smells another man on Kit because she had to be close to a witch for the purposes of cloaking her location, he responds by ripping the clothing from her body, demanding that she never wear them again.  For Damon, this is what passes for love but in actuality it amounts to abuse.

Damon is as far from a romantic love interest as possible.  When he isn't busy trying to control Kit, he infantalises her by calling her "baby girl". Why oh why would a grown ass man think it's okay to refer to the woman he is having sex with as "baby girl"? The only reason for that is that as the supposed adult in this relationship, Damon expects obedience.  When Kit finally gets the evidence she needs to stop a kill order on Damon to be acted upon, Damon demands that she leave with him right now because he needs her like he needs air.  When Kit objects because she has one thing left to do, Damon responds by ending the relationship and walking out. Who the hell does that?

It's only when Kit gets kidnapped that Damon actually wants to do something positive which for him involves stalking around, growling and forcing a confrontation with her, though everyone on the rescue crew tells him to back off because Kit is in no shape to deal with him.  This man who wants obedience from Kit, cannot even respect her wishes for a few moments to get herself together, though she has been raped daily for weeks and tortured.

Kit does manage to walk away from Damon and I sincerely hope that he is out of the picture in the next book.  Daniels stops just short of calling Kit sullied because of her rape and says instead that she cannot be with Damon because she was broken by weeks of rape and torture. Really Daniels?  Why couldn't she have gone with the idea that showing up to play knight in shining armor after abandoning her, being physically abusive, and controlling doesn't make him a fit love interest.

Kit wouldn't even have been in this situation had Damon trusted and respected her enough to reveal that he was indeed guilty of murder but only because he wanted to protect her. It seems that Kit's grandmother had actively been trying to hire someone to harm Kit and that Damon killed anyone who was willing to do that job.  Why exactly Kit couldn't be trust to know that her life was in danger is absolutely beyond me. It's ironic that Damon ends the relationship because he feels that he cannot trust Kit.

As much as I am irritated by the horrible relationship Kit is in with Damon, I'm also upset with the amount of violence Kit has to deal with.  Kit suffers from PTSD because of her abusive childhood. It's very much a form of ongoing mental anguish for her.  She dreams quite often about what happened to her and it's difficult for anyone to wake her up. Years of abuse simply shouldn't just disappear with ease and as glad as I am that Daniels did that with Kit, I cannot help but wonder why we cannot have an urban fantasy / paranormal romance book without having a protagonist with a tortured past?  If that were not enough, Kit gets kidnapped and brutally raped and beaten repeatedly for weeks.  Why?  I simply do not understand why Daniels felt this necessary to include in Night Blade.

In terms of race, we have Damon's best friend Chang, who falls under the enigmatic Asian trope.  We know that he will ride or die with Damon and that his sister was brutally raped.  This is something that he bonds with Kit over.  Who Chang is as a person, I have absolutely no idea.  He hasn't really been central to either book in this series thus far.  Considering that he is the most visible character of colour in this series thus far, Daniels has a lot of work to do to create some proper characterisation for him to move him from a trope to a person.

Unlike Blade Song, there were no LGBT characters in this book.

Beyond issues of inclusion, IPV as love and characterisation, Night Blade is desperately in need of a line editor.  There were serious grammatical errors in this story. I understand that Night Blade is a self pub but readers deserve a polished copy.  A little more attention to detail would have made this book better.

I read Night Blade slowly because there was nothing gripping about the plot line.  I wouldn't necessarily call it boring but it's certainly not compelling.  It's the book you might pick up while waiting for an appointment and then quickly put down and forget about.  This is the book you try and borrow rather than pay your hard earned money for.  This series best descriptor is still meh and I don't hold out much hope for it ever moving beyond that.  There are just too many problems with things like consent, characterisation and editing for it to ever move beyond that.